Nakany Kanté: De Conakry a Barcelone

May 4, 2021

Roots & Wings

Listening Post 301. Nakany Kanté’s third album evokes a place where disparate cultures and experiences harmonize, each home displays artifacts reflecting the owner’s origins and precious pieces acquired on journeys of discovery, and each soul is forged by days of challenge and success, cheer and sadness. The smooth mix of De Conakry a Barcelone is organic, echoing not only a dialogue of African and Western instruments and styles—Malinké pop and tradition, touches of Afrobeat, flamenco, blues and soukous—but also tracing Kanté’s personal trajectory and recorded at the twin poles of her path. Born and raised in Guinea, she began composing when she was eight; coming from a non-griot family she pursued a music career against society’s current. Landing in Spain at age 18, she gained stage experience with a series of West African bands and took flight with her first solo album at 22. On her latest opus, singing in Malinké (also called Maninka), as well as in French and Catalan, Kanté is a passionate voice for African women, against forced marriages, sensitive to long-distance relationships, and mindful of the need to stalk happiness even when there may be little to celebrate. She opens with Faden Sawo, spotlighting the self-important man who “thinks only of himself… pretending to be something he is not” (video 1). With Kobekoun (Everything Is Learned, video 2), she focuses on acquiring wisdom. Monoté (Barren, video 3) laments the marginalization of women unable to have children; and Papada is derived from a traditional story of a girl mistreated by her stepmother (video 4). Samedi (Saturday, video 5) is a reminder that we all need a weekly break from work, to be sure, but also from communal stress. Not yet 30, Kanté has found her groove as a mature artist with her youthful zeal intact—honoring her roots and soaring with her wings. (Kasba Music)

Nakany Kanté: De Conakry a Barcelone / From Conakry to Barcelona
Nakany Kanté: Vocals

Musicians recorded in Conakry
Petit Kerfala Diabate: Guitars
Bouba Kouyate: Bass
Madou Diabate: Tama (“talking drum”)
Chieck Ahmed Kouyate: Djembé
Ousmane Kouyate: Calabash
Mamady Kouyate: Bass
Youssouf Conde: Balafon

Musicians recorded in Barcelona
Djekoriamory Kanté: Guitar
Oumar Ngom: Sabar, djembé
Vicente Juan: Bass
Simonlyricz: Drums
Pape Mbodj: Drums
Rim Akandoh: Drums
Carlos Sarduy: Congas
Nacho Lesko: Keyboards
Momi Maoga: Kora
Mû Mbanda, Las Bajas Passiones y Pinan 450f: Guest vocals 


Faden Sawo
Nakany Kanté
Sung in Malinké (Maninka)

From the album booklet: This song talks about a lazy, irresponsible man who thinks only about himself, who gets up in the morning, drinks his coffee, gets dressed and cruises in his car, takes a walk, saying “pi, pi, pi” wherever he goes, to call attention himself and pretend to be something he is not. There are so many such men …


Kobekoun / Everything Is Learned
Nakany Kanté
Sung in Malinké

No one is born wise, everything is learned. If you don’t know how to do something, acknowledge it and let it teach you. If you know how to cultivate, cultivate, if it is to sell, then sell, if it is to sing, then sing, if you know how to dance, then dance with me!


Monoté / Barren
Nakany Kanté
Sung in Malinké

In my country, sterile women are cursed not to be able to have children, people despise them and some end up going through hell. I believe that they are people like any others, they deserve all my respect and we must support them.


Nakany Kanté
Sung in Malinké

This song is part of a traditional Mandinga tale sung to children at sunset. Papada is a girl who lives with a stepmother who mistreats her. One day she decides she wants to disappear from this world and enters a forbidden but enchanted forest. Then a magical spirit grants her a wish…


Samedi / Saturday
Nakany Kanté
Sung in French and Malinké

Saturday, when you go to Ghana, Togo, Cameroon, you will see them party. In Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, you will see them party, Burkina you will see them party, we think “party.”

Ohhh, Saturday, in my Guinea-Conakry, we do nothing but party, we think of nothing but party.

Nothing more to say…


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